My aunt said they do something in her hospital called cupping? They cup their hand and pat the back of the patients back a certain way, kind of in a circular, repetative motion, to break the mucus up so they can cough it out.
My kids both had breathing issues when they developed colds (until recently) I found if I didn't start using a nebulizer with albuteral, they would turn asmathic. I would try other more natural remedies, and it always got really bad. Especially with my older son. So now, if they have a tight or unproductive cough, I don't mess around. Out comes the nebby.